As advocates for the outdoors, we use the words conservation and preservation seemingly interchangeability, however there are distinct differences to each.
Conservation is the sustainable use of a resource to ensure its longevity, and Preservation is to keep the resource the way it is now with minimal human interference or disruption.
Conservation involves ensuring that natural resources are not consumed faster than they can be replaced. Conservation of natural resources typically takes into consideration interests of human beings—such as the biological, economic, cultural and recreational values such resources have.
Preservation, in contrast, attempts to maintain in the present condition areas of the Earth that are so far untouched by humans.
As self-aware humans in 2019, we must accept that the impact of human expansion has long since passed the tipping point of returning to an unmolested natural world.
The idea that being entirely hands-off, specifically when it comes to wild animals, is the best thing to allow them to flourish ignores the fact that we have carved roads and highways and cities and neighborhoods into a landscape that was continuous and uninterrupted before the expansion of European settlers.
The landscape used to be wide open, like the surface of a pancake with freedom to roam; at best it's now a waffle where many of the recesses are already filled in.
Conserving and Managing what remains requires large teams of biologists who study the patterns, behaviors, population trends, and impact
That said, we do, thanks to very wise conservationists and preservationists who came before us, have large swaths of mostly unmolested land across the Western USA—lands that must be preserved and protected from further human development.
The movement to protect public lands is the great story of preservation of our generation.
We have millions of acres of natural, wild, public lands that are used for both habitat for species big and small, as well as a venue for recreation of all kinds. If those public lands are transferred into private ownership and developed, we will never get those lands back.
A truly effective management strategy requires both conserving resources in a sustainable way—a way that allows biologists and game management experts to create and implement plans to effectively utilize all the resources on the landscape—and preserving wild places that are paramount to the longevity and viability of all wild things.